The Obama administration is asking Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the wave of unaccompanied minors crossing the Southwest border.
The administration had initially requested $2 billion, but White House officials said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that more funds are needed to resolve this situation in an aggressive and cost effective way.
If you look at the details of the supplemental request that the president is submitting today, what you see is a embodiment of the incredibly serious commitment that the president has and the entire administration has to addressing this humanitarian situation with the urgency and the resources that it requires, a White House official said in the conference call.
The emergency funding request includes:
- $1.8 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide the appropriate care for unaccompanied children
- $1.1 billion for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to fund their efforts, including doubling the size of vetted units in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras
- $433 million for Customs and Border Protection for their operational costs, including overtime and temporary duty costs for Border Patrol agents
- $64 million for the Department of Justice to hire additional immigration judges and attorneys
The request, however, does not include any funds to send the National Guard to the border, as House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans have requested.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said Tuesday that the Appropriations Committee and other House members including the working group on the border crisis led by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) will review the Obama administrations emergency funding request.
The Speaker still supports deploying the National Guard to provide humanitarian support in the affected areas, which this proposal does not address, Steel said in a statement.
Obama travels to Texas to address unaccompanied minors crisis
The request for additional funds to address the flow of unaccompanied minors crossing the Southwest border comes as Obama leaves for Austin, Texas, on Wednesday. Hell be there to participate in a Democratic National Convention event and to deliver remarks on the economy at another event on Thursday.
The president is not scheduled to travel to the border during his visit, but he offered to meet with Republican Governor Rick Perry. After declining to meet with Obama, Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed told several media outlets Tuesday that the governor will meet with the president to discuss the humanitarian and national security crises along our southern border.
Perry and other Republicans have accused Obama of causing the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the Southwest border. But the White House and child advocates have pointed to studies and reports that find children from Central America are making the treacherous journey to the U.S. alone to escape violence and poverty in their home countries.
More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have attempted to cross the Southwest border since October. A total of 90,000 are expected to cross by the end of this fiscal year.
The Obama administration has been criticized by child advocates recently for wanting to expedite the removal of unaccompanied minors. A White House official addressed those concerns on Tuesday.
When children enter the United States unaccompanied, we will do our utmost best to care for them properly and to make sure that we put them through the process required by the law expeditiously, the White House official said. But children who do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be returned, and we are seeking to return them more expeditiously.